John Stewart Collis

The Wood
  • The Wood

  • John Stewart Collis

    An academic and writer, during the Second World War John Stewart Collis was put to agricultural work. Clearing and thinning an Ash wood, he found a meditative peace and an earnest pleasure in the use of axe and bill-hook. The Wood contains his beautiful, thoughtful writing on the joys of nature and of a life of activity, how a love of the sun affects a man, and the progression of nature that sees each plant - hawthorn, honeysuckle, larch, elder - have its hour.

    Generations of inhabitants have helped shape the English countryside - but it has profoundly shaped us too.It has provoked a huge variety of responses from artists, writers, musicians and people who live and work on the land - as well as those who are travelling through it.English Journeys celebrates this long tradition with a series of twenty books on all aspects of the countryside, from stargazey pie and country churches, to man's relationship with nature and songs celebrating the patterns of the countryside (as well as ghosts and love-struck soldiers).

John Stewart Collis was born in 1900. His father was a Dublin solicitor and Collis was educated at Rugby School and Balliol College, Oxford. In 1925 he published a biography of George Bernard Shaw and he later went on to write other biographical works and also became a pioneer of the ecological movement in Britain. During the Second World War his wife and daughters were evacuated to the United States and he worked for the Land Army as an agricultural labourer - accompanied by his beloved dog, Bindo. His memoirs and meditations on rural life, While Following the Plough (1946) and Down to Earth (1947) were first published together as The Worm Forgives the Plough in 1973, which has become a classic of nature writing.